17 years ago, on February 22, 1993, comrades of the Communist Ghadar Party of India, along with activists of scores of other mass organizations, organized a historic rally at the memorial of Shaheed Bhagat Singh and his comrades at Ferozeshah Kotla in Delhi.
In the immediate aftermath of the demolition of the Babri Masjid, at a time when Section 144 was imposed in all areas of central Delhi, this historic rally boldly defied the curfew and raised its voice against both the BJP and the Congress Party, holding them equally guilty for the criminal politics that had led to the communal massacre of thousands of people in many parts of the country. Hundreds of passers-by stopped to speak and listen to the comrades and eagerly read the leaflet which was brought out on the occasion.
Comrades of the party clearly pointed out that in the political system existing in our country, the parties of the big monopoly bourgeoisie, such as the Congress Party and the BJP, set the political agenda while the masses of people are completely marginalized from the political process. These political parties criminally divide the people and organize bloodbaths, to crush our struggles against the gross injustice and intolerable suffering we face under the rule of the big bourgeoisie. They have perfected this method, inherited from their colonial masters, and use it time and again, as a preferred weapon to push through their anti-people agenda. The masses of working people are the victims of this criminal politics, forced to remain helpless by-standers with no power to decide the course of society.
This fundamental problem with the existing political system – that the power to make decisions and set the agenda for the whole of society lies in the hands of a minority ruling elite, which rules in the interests of the big bourgeoisie through its political parties that defend its interests – is at the root of the innumerable problems facing our people, the comrades at the rally boldly stated, through their slogans as well as in the leaflet that was widely distributed. The political process, with elections organized once every few years to allow people to choose who should represent them from among these same criminal political parties, completely disempowers the masses of workers, peasants and working people, it was pointed out. What is urgently needed is a complete renewal of this political system and process. What is urgently needed is the establishment of a new political system which places political power firmly in the hands of the workers, peasants and working people. What is needed is a political process that ensures that the working people retain political power in their own hands and keep criminal political parties of the bourgeoisie like the Congress and the BJP out of political power. This includes mechanisms by which the working people can take decisions that affect the future course of society and ensure their implementation.
This bold public statement and stand taken at the initiative of the Communist Ghadar Party of India 17 years ago represented a radical break from the politics of conciliation with the bourgeoisie practiced by the parliamentary communist parties such as the CPI and CPI(M). These parties staunchly defend the existing political system and its Constitution and any opposition on their part is confined, at the most, to proposing reforms within this same system. The bold statement and stand of the rally of February 22, 1993 won the support of thousands of Indians all over the country and abroad, as it showed the way forward for a future in which our people will be the masters of their own destiny.
This historic action of February 22, 1993 led to the formation of the Committee for People’s Empowerment (CPE). Hundreds of activists fighting for the rights of the people, from all walks of life – academics, judges, lawyers, human rights activists, media persons, writers, film makers, women activists, workers, peasants, youth -- joined its ranks. The CPE provided a platform for people who are concerned about the lack of power for people in this system to come together irrespective of their ideological or other affiliations.
One of the achievements of CPE was to deepen the analysis of the present political system and to identify the roots of the disempowerment of the people. In the years following this action, the CPE boldly initiated several campaigns with the vision of empowerment of the people. It put forward concrete proposals for the renewal of the political process, for direct democracy in place of the existing representative democracy, including the right of people to select candidates from among themselves, rejecting the candidates of the political parties of the bourgeoisie, for mechanisms to ensure accountability of elected candidates before the electorate, mechanisms for people to initiate legislation, and so on. With these initiatives of the CPE beginning to attract masses of people, it reorganized itself as Lok Raj Sangathan in 1998.
The years since the historic rally of February 22, 1993 have only reconfirmed what the rally so boldly pointed out. The criminal demolition of the Babri Masjid and the communal bloodbath that followed, was used to usher in major capitalist reforms in the form of liberalization, privatization and globalization, that have served the Indian bourgeoisie to greatly enrich itself and become a world class power, while causing death and destruction for the vast masses of the workers, peasants and working people. As the Indian bourgeoisie arrogantly strides forth in its imperialist pursuits, wreaking misery all around and brutally crushing the aspirations of millions of our people, the need for a complete renewal of the political system and process, the need for political power in the hands of the people, the clarion call of the rally of February 22, 1993 becomes even more urgent.